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Swiss deny neutrality was "a crime"

WJC President Singer says Switzerland shares reponsibility for the Holocaust crimes Keystone

Swiss politicians have dismissed renewed criticism by the World Jewish Congress (WJC) of Switzerland’s role during the Second World War.

This content was published on January 26, 2005 - 11:29

The comments came after the WJC chairman, Israel Singer, described Swiss neutrality during the Holocaust era as “a crime”.

Singer said the recent past had shown that Nazi Germany bore “particular and unforgivable responsibility”, but added that other nations in Europe had to face up to their own past.

“Austria was the first willing accomplice and not the first victim, not all the French supported De Gaulle and Swiss neutrality was a crime in the face of the Holocaust.”

Singer was speaking on Tuesday at a memorial event in Berlin to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

The presidents of Switzerland’s parliamentary foreign-affairs committees rejected the accusations.

Parliamentarian Erwin Jutzet said Singer’s comments were unacceptable.

Isolation

He added that Switzerland had been surrounded by countries run or occupied by the Nazis and that it had not been the Swiss who sent people to death camps.

Senator Peter Briner described the Holocaust as a crime and inexcusable perversion. He said Switzerland had provided refuge to some – though not all – people fleeing the Nazis.

Briner also said Switzerland was one of the few countries to have reviewed its Second World War history.

The foreign ministry did not respond to Singer’s comments.

Ten years ago the Swiss government apologised for the failures of its refugee policy during the Nazi rule in Germany, and expressed regret about cases of negligence over the restitution of assets.

In 2002 an independent commission of experts, led by the historian Jean-François Bergier, published a wide-ranging report into Switzerland’s wartime role.

The Swiss president, Samuel Schmid, is one of many numerous dignitaries due to attend the main ceremony in Poland on Thursday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Over the past few years the WJC has repeatedly criticised Switzerland’s role during the Second World War, notably its refugee policy.

In its final report in 2002 an independent panel concluded that Switzerland’s wartime governments had sometimes failed to meet their humanitarian responsibilities.

The Swiss president, Samuel Schmid, is due to attend an official ceremony in Poland on Thursday to commemorate the 1945 liberation of the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz.

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